- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 2, 2005

Condominium sales continue to be frenzied in the District of Columbia, as empty nesters and young singles and couples express their interest in city living and owning property.

Neighborhoods in all four quadrants of the city are experiencing a resurgence of development, including apartment buildings being converted to condominiums and new buildings being developed.

In addition to a desire for urban living, condominium sales also are being driven by frustration over traffic woes, which leads buyers to trade a larger home with a lawn for a residence within walking distance of work or at least a Metro stop.

While Penn Quarter, the P Street and 14th Street corridors, and Logan Circle are all well-known areas of the city that have undergone transformation from less-than-desirable to upscale neighborhoods of renovated condominiums and town houses attracting wealthy buyers, other areas of the city are also in the process of revitalization.

“Right now, every neighborhood in D.C. seems good for residential development,” says Michael J. Darby of Monument Realty. “The main thing people need to look for when buying a condominium to make sure it holds its value is location. They also need to see how an area will improve. It can be tricky to know what will be holding its value and continuing to improve, especially in some of the low-numbered streets and high letters in both Northwest and Northeast.”

Predictions vary as to which will be the next Penn Quarter or Logan Circle, but real estate agents and developers all point to Southeast as a potential area for residential expansion.

“We’re looking at large residential growth in Southeast because of the amount of money being spent on the infrastructure for the new stadium,” Mr. Darby says. “Metro is already there, and the plans call for a mix of retail shops and restaurants, which will also be attractive for residential development.”

Penn Circle condominiums, a conversion project by Drummond Development, has homes priced in the low $200,000s that are convenient to two Metro stations in Southeast.

Mr. Darby also predicts that Southwest eventually will be considered a great place to live and will be as appealing as some of the neighborhoods in Northwest.

“The Southwest waterfront area will be improved with the plans that are currently being made, and this area will also benefit from the stadium plans,” Mr. Darby says.

Monument Realty has sold out the first two phases of the Residences at Potomac Place in Southwest, and later this year plans to sell another 400 residences in this conversion project. Sales are anticipated to begin later this fall, with prices from the $250,000s to the $400,000s.

Gerard DiRuggiero, a real estate broker with Urban Land Co., which specializes in new construction and conversion sales, sees Northeast Washington near the Rhode Island Avenue Metro station as one of the next neighborhoods to experience significant redevelopment.

“Buyers are finding that the homes along U Street Northwest are too expensive, so they are beginning to look into the next nearest neighborhood, along Rhode Island Avenue near Fourth Street Northeast,” Mr. DiRuggiero says. “There are a number of projects coming along in that neighborhood, with both smaller and larger condominium buildings being planned. A couple of years ago, people would pay about $200 per square foot for this area; now it’s going for $400 per square foot. But look at U Street. A few years ago, it would be unthinkable that condominiums along that street would be selling for $550 to $600 per square foot.”

Other areas expected to be revitalized include Georgia Avenue in Northwest and an expanded Capitol Hill.

“Capitol Hill is going farther and farther out,” Mr. DiRuggiero says. “Buildings are being developed in the 1500 block of Independence Avenue Northeast. Once the stadium project gets developed, you’ll see more interest in Southeast, but it hasn’t become popular yet.”

Urban Land Co. handles sales on multiple condominium projects in a variety of city neighborhoods.

The first phase of Capitol Overlook, in the Eckington neighborhood near the New York Avenue Metro station, has been completely sold, but plans are under way to develop a second phase of the project, which is at 211 to 221 R St. NE. Mr. DiRuggiero expects the new residences to be priced in the $500,000 range.

Brookland House, at 2614 Fourth St. NE, will include 26 one-bedroom condominiums within walking distance of the Rhode Island Avenue Metro station. Sales will start later this summer, with prices beginning in the $200,000s.

At Ontario Row at 2434 Ontario Road in Adams Morgan, Urban Land Co. is selling one-bedroom-and-den and two-bedroom residences, including a penthouse with a spiral staircase to the rooftop deck. Prices begin at $499,900.

Sales are anticipated to begin in August at the Floridian, located at 919 Florida Ave. NW in the U Street corridor. Mr. DiRuggiero anticipates that the one-bedroom homes will be priced from the $200,000s and the two-bedroom homes will be priced from the $300,000s. The eight-story steel-and-colored-glass towers will overlook U Street and have 118 loft condominiums.

Within a few weeks, Urban Land will start sales on the Terrazza at 2126 11th St. NW in the U Street corridor. Six two-bedroom, two-bath units will be available, each with a balcony. Base prices are expected to begin at $529,900.

In Shaw, Urban Land will begin sales later this year at the Monique at Fifth and R streets NW. Twelve newly constructed duplexes and flats will be built, with prices as yet undetermined.

Sales are anticipated to begin in July by Urban Land at Columbia Square, at 2600 Sherman Ave. NW in Columbia Heights, where one-bedroom homes will be priced from the $200,000s and two-bedroom homes will be priced from the $300,000s. The homes will be flats and duplexes with stone counters and stainless-steel appliances and marble baths.

KL Associates, a company that develops, manages and sells residential properties in Washington, has several upcoming condominium projects, including the Prasada in Columbia Heights. According to sales manager Kim Mitchell, sales should begin in late fall or early winter at the Prasada, located at 739 Newton Place NW. The 19 one- and two-bedroom homes are expected to be priced from the upper $200,000s to the upper $400,000s.

“All of our condominium projects include hardwood flooring, gourmet kitchens with granite counters, stainless-steel appliances and a breakfast bar,” Ms. Mitchell says. “The other amenities we always include are high-speed wiring, whirlpool tubs and a washer/dryer.”

At the Rhode Island at LeDroit Park, sales are expected to start later this summer. This building will include a mix of efficiencies and one-, two- and three-bedroom homes, priced from the upper $100,000s to the upper $400,000s. These homes will include the amenities package that comes with all projects of KL Associates.

KL Associates is in the process of revising some of the design elements of the New Yorker, located at 300 L St. NE near the New York Avenue Metro station. Sales should begin later this year or early next year, with the homes to be ready for occupancy in 2007. The 44 residences will be built in a steel-and-glass building with on-site parking, one- and two-bedroom homes, and some loft and duplex units.

PN Hoffman Construction and Development, one of the most prolific builders of new condominiums in Washington in recent years, has sold 80 percent of the 120 homes at the Alta at Thomas Circle. The remaining residences are priced from the mid-$300,000s. Located at 1133 14th St. NW, between Logan Circle and downtown, the Alta has one- and two-bedroom homes available.

Alanna Deal, marketing manager for PN Hoffman, says the company’s next big project will be the Flats at Union Row and the Warehouses at Union Row, both at 14th and V streets NW.

“The Flats will be one-level units with studios to loft-style homes priced from the $300,000s,” Ms. Deal says. “We’ll be rereleasing homes for sale in the Flats in the fall. The Warehouses are actually two warehouses that we are gutting and converting into two-level or multilevel condominiums. The two buildings are parallel to a courtyard. We expect to begin sales on the Warehouses in the fall, too. Prices haven’t been set yet, but we anticipate them to start in the mid-$300,000s.”

Some of the most upscale condominiums available in Northwest include the highly anticipated Belle Rives at Watergate, a conversion project of the Watergate Hotel into condominiums by Monument Realty. These luxurious residences are expected to be priced from $1,000,000, with sales to begin once plans are finalized.

Monument Realty has sold 30 of the 36 residences at Dumbarton Place, an upscale condominium on 22nd Street near Rock Creek Park with base prices from $1,300,000 to $2,200,000.

At Chase Point, PN Hoffman has about 30 of the 107 homes still available, priced from the $700,000s. Located at 4301 Military Road, at the intersection of Western Avenue and Military Road near the Friendship Heights Metro station, Chase Point offers a fitness center and two-bedroom and three-bedroom homes with dens and upscale amenities including Viking appliances, granite kitchen counters, marble vanities in the baths, natural stone bathroom floors and shower surrounds.

Some additional residences are anticipated to be available at the Connecticut, Monument Realty’s conversion project at 3883 Connecticut Ave. NW, with prices from the $400,000s to the $700,000s.

The industry insiders interviewed for this article say they believe the condominium market will remain strong for at least the next few years.

“There are so many buyers out there pushing to buy condominiums, but if mortgage rates go up as predicted, we may see certain areas of the market level off,” Mr. Darby says. “There may be a gradual slowdown and some price adjustments, but at least for the next two or three years, we will still need more [homes] being built in all price ranges and all types.”

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